Theater Reviews

Review: “stop. reset.”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Owen Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through June 21 Tickets: $10-$40 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Think of Regina Taylor’s “stop. reset.” as a realistic play, and you’re bound to be confused. Regard it instead as a cross between an “Afrofuturist” science-fiction fantasy and a meditation on(…)

Review: “The Secret Garden”

RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through June 21 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic “The Secret Garden” has never been one of my favorite shows. Marsha Norman (book and lyrics) and Lucy Simon’s (music) 1991 musical based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 children’s novel has always struck me(…)

Review: “The Projects”

Review: “The Projects”

RECOMMENDED Where: American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron St. When: through June 21 Tickets: $43-$48 Phone: 773-409-4125 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I’ve been trying to appreciate the world premiere of “The Project(s)” at American Theater Company for what it is rather than getting hung up on what it purports to be. According to artistic(…)

Review: “The Little Foxes”

Review: “The Little Foxes”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through June 7 Tickets: $25-$81 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Rapaciousness rules in “The Little Foxes,” Lillian Hellman’s 1939 play about the greedy Hubbard family, perhaps best known from the 1941 film starring Bette Davis as Regina Giddens. In Goodman Theatre’s delectably entertaining production(…)

Review: “The Herd”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through June14 Tickets: $20-$86 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic In the hands of a lesser company than Steppenwolf Theatre, the U.S. premiere of actor-playwright Rory Kinnear’s first play, “The Herd,” might come across as just another dysfunctional family drama. But director Frank(…)

Review: “Sense and Sensibility”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago SHakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through June 14 Tickets: $48-$88 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The world premiere of the musical “Sense and Sensibility” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater is like a sumptuous feast that somehow leaves you unsatisfied. Based on the 1811 novel by the beloved Jane Austen, the show(…)

Review: “Louis and Keely ‘Live’ at the Sahara”

Review: “Louis and Keely ‘Live’ at the Sahara”

RECOMMENDED Where: Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. When: through May 17 Tickets: $65 Phone: 312-988-9000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic From the title “Louis and Keely ‘Live’ at the Sahara,” you might expect a recreation of a show Louis Prima and Keely Smith performed at the titular Las Vegas hotel during their 1950s(…)

Review: “First Date”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted St. When: through May 17 Tickets: $15-$59 Phone: 312-988-9000 Judging by the enthusiasm of the opening-night crowd, there’s undoubtedly a local audience for “First Date,” the 90-minute musical with a book by Austin Winsberg (TV’s “Gossip Girl”) and music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael(…)

Review: “Marie Antoinette”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through May 10 Tickets: $20-$86 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic What are we to make of “Marie Antoinette”? That’s the question I kept asking myself as I watched the Chicago premiere of David Adjmi’s play about France’s doomed last queen at(…)

Review: “Jesus Christ Superstar”

Review: “Jesus Christ Superstar”

RECOMMENDED Where: Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre at No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave. When: through May 17 Tickets: $39-$43 Phone: 800-595-4849 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” is far from the first musical you’d think of scaling down for a cabaret theater, but Theo Ubique generally(…)

Review: “Travesties”

RECOMMENDED Where: Remy Bumppo at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through May 3 Tickets: $42.50-$52.50 Phone: 773-404-7336 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic No one has a talent for teasing a whole world of ideas out of a few historical tidbits like Tom Stoppard. In the brilliant 1974 “Travesties,” he uses the(…)

Review: “Carousel”

Review: “Carousel”

RECOMMENDED Where: Lyric Opera of Chicago, Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive When: through May 3 Tickets: $29-$199 Phone: 312-827-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’re familiar with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel,” the first thing you may notice about Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of the 1945 Broadway musical is that the setting(…)

Review: “The Apple Family Plays: That Hopey Changey Thing and Sorry”

RECOMMENDED Where: TimeLine Theatre Company, 615 W. Wellington Ave. When: through April 19 Tickets: $39-$52 Phone: 773-281-8463 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic When playwright Richard Nelson began “The Apple Family Plays,” he thought they might end up being “disposable” because they were so tied to a specific time and place that they were likely to(…)

Review: “The Good Book”

RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through April 19 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic When I interviewed playwrights Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson about “The Good Book,” they explained that they weren’t interested in Bible stories or theology but rather in how the Bible came to be from(…)

Review: “Balm in Gilead”

Review: “Balm in Gilead”

RECOMMENDED Where: Griffin Theatre Company at The Den Theatre, 1329-1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. When: through April 19 Tickets: $35 Phone: 866-811-4111 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Anyone who’s been around Chicago theater long enough remembers Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s 1980 production of “Balm in Gilead” as one of the greatest shows ever. Director John Malkovich turned Landford Wilson’s(…)

Review: “Outside Mullingar”

RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through April 19 Tickets: $25-$78 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic John Patrick Shanley’s “Outside Mullingar” is set from 2008 to 2013 and premiered on Broadway last year, but the old-fashioned romantic comedy could have been written half-a-century(…)

Review: “Two Trains Running”

Review: “Two Trains Running”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through April 19 Tickets: $27-$80 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic When I reviewed Goodman Theatre’s 1993 production of August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running,” I said it was a show you’d be very glad you saw but a little reluctant to recommend wholeheartedly to(…)

Review: “The Other Place”

Review: “The Other Place”

RECOMMENDED Where: Profiles Theatre Main Stage, 4139 N. Broadway When: through April 5 Tickets: $35-$40 Phone: 773-549-1815 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic When we first see Julianna Smithton in the Chicago premiere of “The Other Place” at Profiles Theatre, she’s a stunning 52-year-old blond in a sexy little black suit and spiked heels. A neurologist-turned-pharmaceutical(…)

Review: “First Wives Club: The Musical”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. When: through March 29 Tickets: $33-$100 Phone: 800-773-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If a few great oldies, an emotional-button-pushing plot, and some solid performances were enough to guarantee success on the Great White Way, the pre-Broadway world premiere of “First Wives Club: The Musical” at(…)

Review: “Dunsinane”

Review: “Dunsinane”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater Courtyard Theater, Navy Pier When: through March 22 Tickets: $58-$78 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic One country invades another with the good intention of bringing peace, only to have the conflict spin out of control, leading to the destruction of whole villages, the murder of soldiers and civilians, and(…)